What a way to finish off 2011!
2011 was a hell of a year. Not only that Borussia Dortmund won the championship in May and celebrated it big time, but even in the first half of the season that followed, the Deutscher Meister underlined his great performance of season 2010/2011 by going into the break on the second rank. The trip to Champions League grounds was a wild run which ended early, but since Tuesday, we got several lasting impressions for the rest of the year. One: Borussia can score penalties. Two: Borussia can win in cup competitions. Three: Even with several personal problems, the team is still able to play a good ball. Four (not a new one): We have one of the most awesome teams in Borussia's history.
Before the match
For three of the schwatzgelb.com editors, the trip to the ESPRIT-Arena in Düsseldorf (not an outlet store even though one could get the impression of it) ended up being a bit complicated. The three of them started early and followed the instructions of the BVB fan supporters who announced that the supporters of the Deutscher Meister should travel to Düsseldorf airport to make the way to the stadium. I could now write about funny rides in air trains, discussions with bus drivers, stupid chants directed at the editors from the mouths of the Düsseldorf supporters and frustration along the way. However, to put a long story short: The way to the stadium could have been a lot easier, but in the end, they made the way to the stadium to find out that there was no beer waiting for them in front of the arena. Therefore, they went to a little pub which was nearby and witnessed the 1-0 lead for Bochum against Munich (which ended up in another lucky victory for the arrogant ones). After some time, they eventually made their way to the stands and were informed that Kagawa would be one of the eleven Borussians trying to hunt down the leader of the second Bundesliga who was unbeaten at home until last Friday. Unfortunately, Kagawa needed to be replaced some minutes before the match due to a gastro-intestinal disease and therefore was one of nine (!) missing Borussians along Schmelzer, Götze, Bender, Subotic, Santana, Leitner, Zidan and Koch. Löwe was in for Schmelzer, Owomoyela took the spot besides Mats Hummels for Santana. Barrios got in for Kagawa and all in all, it was like some sort of B-team playing against Fortuna Düsseldorf who did not know about any personal problems at this point. While the Fortuna supporters presented a great choreo at the start of the match, around 6.000 or 7.000 BVB fans travelled to the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia and everybody was ready for a big cup fight. However, nobody would have expected the happenings which followed.
Borussia's offense started early with a cross by Großkreutz which found Barrios and a first warning was given by the Argentinian after three minutes. However, Barrios disappointed over the upcoming seventy minutes and maybe – just maybe – this was the last time we saw him in a jersey of the Deutscher Meister. But the rumors will find enough space on schwatzgelb.com over the next weeks so we should still stick to the match here. Another header, this time by Kuba who showed one of his better performances in black and yellow once again and finally found his form after he spent some time moaning, was directed to the goal of former Borussia Michael Ratajczak who saved it some seconds later. The first opportunity for Düsseldorf, however, was given away by Lukimya after 19 minutes when a long shot from the distance slightly missed the goal of Roman Weidenfeller who will be in the focus of this report later on. Speaking of long shots, top scorer Robert Lewandowski accepted Lukimya's challenge and tried a shot on his own which was not easy for Ratajczak to save, but the ball got cleared at the cost of a corner kick (25th) by the keeper just like a shot by Lambertz could not overcome Weidenfeller (27th). When a counter attack by the home team saw Rösler nearly through the Dortmund defense, Owomoyela straddled into him with only few chances of hitting the ball. A deserved booking followed but unfortunately for "Uwe", it was already his second one so he was sent off the pitch and Borussia had to finish the match with ten players. Owomoyela was shocked and felt so guilty that he invited the whole team to a famous fast food restaurant after the match and Borussia once again had to deal with another personal issue after 35 minutes. The free kick which followed the fateful foul was brilliantly saved by Weidenfeller for one more time. A big opportunity for Barrios who was assisted by Lewandowski but took too much time to finish it off ended the first half which was filled with highlights and a first appetizer of things to come.
The second half of the match was not a spectacle. Borussia tried to compensate the loss of Owomoyela and changed to three men (Hummels, Großkreutz/Kringe, Piszczek) forming the last defensive line, Düsseldorf got more and more courageous and tried to make the match on their own. Several opportunites were either slightly given away or cleared by Weidenfeller, chances of Borussia were rare during the second 45 minutes. However, two things need to be pointed out. One: This team fought for its life with so much passion that Klopp said afterwards that he was never so proud of his team before. Two: Florian Kringe celebrated his comeback when he was brought in after 80 minutes replacing Chris Löwe. Kringe is one of the fan favourites since he went through good and bad times with Borussia and it was great to see him back on the pitch for the first squad after he recently only played for the Reserve.
Extra time followed and to be honest, it was because of Weidenfeller that Borussia managed to get to penalties. First, he saved a header by Rösler and when an unsuccessful attempt to clear the ball by Piszczek was directed to the goal of Borussia, Weidenfeller was there once again to keep Borussia in the match. Without any doubt, Weidenfeller was THE man of the match already, followed by Mats Hummels who showed an incredible performance and kept the order in the defense. But Borussia was trying to score as well when a shot by Kringe was no problem for Ratajczak after the player with the number 6 took too much time to finish. During the last minutes of the match, penalties seemed unpreventable and two questions existed in the minds of the Dortmund supporters. One: Will we score any penalties at all after the disaster in last season? Two: Will Weidenfeller – not very known for being a penalty killer – manage to save one or even more?
Jovanovic, Hummels and Langeneke scored when referee Manuel Gräfe decided to gain some attention in this match. It is no secret that the keepers are told to stay on the goal line when the penalties are taken. However, it is no secret that no keeper cares about that rule so it is a curiosity when you see a goalie sticking to this rule for the whole shoot-out. Ratajczak positioned himself some inches before the line, but Kuba scored. BVB fans were celebrating and Gräfe called for a re-shoot. However, the Pole was not impressed by that and scored for a second time. When Lambertz missed his penalty afterwards and the whole BVB crowd was going nuts, Gräfe once again called for a retry for the same stupid reason. Weidenfeller, Kehl and Großkreutz stormed to Gräfe and argued with him but the ref kept calm and arrogantly presented bookings for Roman and our skipper. I could not put into words how ridiculous this whole situation was. Lambertz eventually scored his second try and fortunately, I can look at the situation with a smile today. Skipper Kehl then scored making it 3-3 after three rounds before Weidenfeller wrote history by killing Bröker's penalty which gave Gündogan the opportunity to gain the lead. He did so and after Rösler hit the equalizer, it was all about Ivan Perisic. The number 14 scored and Borussia got the victory in pentalties.
What a night it was in Düsseldorf. After the match, Weidenfeller was not stoppable and the whole team was going crazy as if they had already won a championship. Great to see that the team is still hungry. Borussia will travel to Kiel in the quarter final of the cup, a team from league four who recently beat clubs like Mainz or Cottbus and should not be underestimated. However, it is still a big opportunity to make it to the last four. After the team of Holstein Kiel celebrated the draw of the Deutscher Meister on live television by insulting the team and the fans with the not really creative "BVB Hurensöhne", BVB fans stormed the Facebook page of the opposing club after schwatzgelb.de called for it. Within minutes, the whole was bannered in black and yellow and the match already is eagerly-awaited even though it is some weeks away. Now it is time for the break and to recap the things that happened in 2011 who will never be forgotten by any BVB supporter. For the team, it is try to gain back some energy and to come back from injury. And for us at schwatzgelb.com, it is time to thank you readers for the time you spent with us in 2011 and to wish you all a Merry Christmas in black and yellow! Happy Holidays!
Fortuna Düsseldorf: Ratajczak - Levels, Lukimya, Langeneke, van den Bergh - Bodzek - Beister, Lambertz, Fink - Bröker, Rösler
Subs: Dum for Fink (63rd), Jovanovic for Beister (79th)
Borussia: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Owomyela, Hummels, Löwe - Gündogan, Kehl - Kuba, Lewandowski, Großkreutz – Barrios
Subs: Perisic for Barrios (74th), Kringe for Löwe (80th)
Penalties: 1-0 Jovanovic, 1-1 Hummels, 2-1 Langeneke, 2-2 Kuba, 3-2 Lambertz, 3-3 Kehl, Weidenfeller saves against Bröker, 3-4 Gündogan, 4-4 Rösler, 4¬-5 Perisic
Bookings: Rösler, Lambertz, Bodzek, Dum - Weidenfeller, Kehl
Second Booking: Owomoyela (34th)
Referee: Gräfe (Berlin)
Attendance: 54.000 (sold-out ESPRIT-Arena)